The Motorsport UK British Rally Championship will kick start its 65th anniversary season Saturday as the Malcolm Wilson Rally plays host to the opening round of the 2023 term.
Classic Cumbrian forest stages such as Grizedale have been etched on the memories of many rally fans over the years thanks to their influential role in the RAC Rally’s of old, and now the region’s forests will host the championship for the first time in decades, offering an uncharted start to Britain’s premier rally series.
A newcomer to the seven-round BRC bill, the Malcolm Wilson Rally is based at the home of the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team in Cockermouth and an impressive array of top-flight BRC1 crews in Rally2 machinery will assemble at the facility, aiming for a maximum score to get their season off to the perfect start.
The Malcolm Wilson Rally starts from the M-Sport facility outside of Cockermouth early on Saturday morning, with seven stages and around 51 stage miles on offer during the day.
They will be joined by the ultra-rapid Junior and Academy drivers in Rally4 and R2 examples, as well as the National Rally Champion contenders.
And for the series opener, M-Sport has decided to bring out the big guns, entering World Rally Championship ace and WRC2 factory driver Adrien Fourmaux. With Alex Coria alongside, Fourmaux will pilot a Fiesta Rally2 in the hunt for seat time ahead of the incoming Rally Mexico.
The squad have also nominated the event as his “Joker”, offering up to five additional bonus points for a maximum score and although that could come across as confident, he is not predicting an easy fight.
“Honestly, I don’t really know what to expect” he said.
“I think we will have a very high level of competition, it’s always interesting to fight in a national championship. I’m expecting a nice rally on the Malcolm Wilson. It’s a good opportunity to support the WRC2 fight this year.”
If ever the chasing pack needed a benchmark, this will be it and there will be a familiar name hunting down the Frenchman for opening round glory.
Placing a late entry, four-time British Champion Keith Cronin embarks on a last-minute campaign for that elusive record-equalling title. Finishing second to Osian Pryce in 2022, he and Mike Galvin will be hunting down Jimmy McRae’s five BRC crowns and return in their Volkswagen Polo GTi.
“We’re not really sure yet how many BRC rounds Fourmaux will be able to fit in around his World Championship schedule, if he does most of them then it will be hard to see beyond him for the title” says Cronin.